Most of us have now received the ballot papers, and very many will already have voted. But there are still many ‘undecideds’, and the battle for their votes now goes into the final round.

Just as during parliamentary elections, this is now the time for smears and nasty tricks. The latest example is a spoof email which was sent out to members and branch secretaries as ‘advice’ coming from ‘UKIP’, telling the recipients to vote for AMW.

In his communication to members, the Returning Officer Piers Wauchope yesterday made clear this was a spoof and had nothing to do with UKIP:

Bogus Email Alert

Some of you may have received an email from “Support Team” on behalf of “UKIP Leadership Election Information” of 17 Kings Walk in Exeter. No one in head office has heard of this body.

Concerns have been raised that the email was designed to appear as if it had been put out by Lexdrum House as an official UKIP communication. It is not an official communication. It is a communication sent out by a supporter or supporters of one of the leadership candidates.

If you receive an email from “Support Team”, you may take whatever notice of them as you please, but do not suppose that the party has anything to do with it.

Piers Wauchope

Returning Officer

I’ve been informed that some IT whizzes communicated the technical aspects of that email to Mr Wauchope, demonstrating that it was from a fake account. They make it quite clear that this spoof could have come from anyone: a supporter, a Kipper, a non-member even, and that it would be very wrong to point the finger exclusively at AMW or her supporters.

I’ll go a step further than Mr Wauchope. I would like to warn you all to be alert not just to the increased risk of spoofs, ‘discoveries’, malign ‘reports’ and breathtaking headlines about this or that candidate. On closer reading, these ‘reports’ lack foundation. Their aim is to fire up a faux outrage in the hope that some of the muck will stick, making unsuspecting members re-think their vote while at the same time allow opponents to indulge in some more fortuitous candidate-bashing.

This used to happen to UKIP candidates in General and Local elections: we brushed it aside as the nasty-but-normal behaviour of the Establishment parties and MSM.

Now this sort of underhand dealings has got into our own Party. We were always better than ‘them’: the Westminster ‘elites’, the politicians who are only in it for themselves, weren’t we!  Before some of you now point fingers at “infiltrators” from LibLabCon, let me remind you that with few exceptions most ordinary Kippers have turned their backs on their former parties, rejecting their policies and joined UKIP for that reason. They have been and are staunch Kippers and don’t deserve to be smeared by those who think they alone are in possession of truth and purity.

But – the fact remains that there are now some members and supporters who apparently think that the be-all and end-all is to win, regardless. That this end justifies the means … just like ‘normal’ politicians … Is that what we now have become in UKIP? That is not who we were!

So – the warnings. Expect more smears and slurs to be thrown at the candidates – not by the MSM: at the moment they couldn’t care less about what we do to each other! –  but by ‘interested parties’ inside UKIP. Yes, we need to know all we can about the candidate who we will vote for or have already voted for – but excuse me: haven’t we already been scrutinising them for the last three months?

So: why now? Because according to ‘electioneering science’, it’s the small things, the apparently inconsequential things which just might tip the balance one way or another – provided they get blown out of all proportions, provided there are a sufficient number of ‘helpers’ online who can fire up a storm.

Here’s another warning: all this, from spoof emails and fake outrage to underhand personal slurs may not have found their way into the MSM headlines yet, but be sure that they will be splattered across the front pages as soon as the new leader is announced! The MSM will have collected files on each of the candidates. They will gleefully make use of whatever we, i.e. the supporters, have been providing them with through such ‘combative electioneering techniques’. The more we indulge in vituperative arguments, in playing the person (see, I’m fully gender-inclusive!) not the ball, the more ammunition we give away for free.

In these last two weeks of the seemingly endless campaign we must accept that there is no such thing as an ideal candidate, that there is no such thing as a candidate who is pure as the driven snow, that there is no candidate who cannot be ‘had’ for something that happened ten or twelve years ago. If we demand ‘purity’ from a candidate we ask for someone who has spent all his adult life in a cave. Is that a recommendation for a prospective leader?

So beware of spoof emails, beware of spoof endorsements, beware of irrelevant ‘revelations’. Don’t use articles in the biased MSM or on certain blogs as ‘evidence’ against a candidate.

Do what Kippers used to do: debate, be critical and be critical of the ‘news’ sources.  We make up your own minds but have always allowed others to have and hold their own opinion without denigrating them.

Finally: there are many ways to bring the Party into disrepute. That spoof email is one example.